Another “guilty pleasure” series that I read when I want something quick and fun. So far, Harper Paris (the author) has yet to disappoint with these books as the twins, Ethan and Ella, travel around the globe with their parents and discovery a mystery to be solved in each of the locales. In The Mystery of the Lion’s Tale, however, the mystery is nearly as elusive as the lion the family is hoping to see.
Paris takes the Briar family to Kenya in Africa for this book, where the kids are treated to an exciting safari. Their guide tells them they should keep an eye out for “The Big Five” while journeying across the plains – the African elephant, the Cape buffalo, the leopard, the rhinoceros, and the king of the jungle himself, the lion. Ethan and Ella keep their eyes peeled, and manage to find the first four animals, but as their stay in Kenya is about to end, they are desperate to see a lion!
The search for the lion does not make for much of a mystery, even by early reader standards. Sure, a “missing” will or emerald or painting or pretty much anything that has been stolen or secreted away somewhere makes for a fun mystery. But simply searching for an animal that is there but hasn’t been seen yet is not quite as exciting. In fact, it’s a bit of a let down, since the prior mysteries actually involved the twins finding clues, following up on leads, and actually “solving” a mystery. Here, they see glimpses of what might be a lion’s tale and ultimately are shown the lion by a scientist that their grandfather once knew.
As with the prior books, Paris does provide plenty of details about Kenya’s wildlife and natives, and Ethan and Ella even meet a local brother and sister with whom they make friends and exchange gifts before leaving the country. Whereas prior books used a number of foreign words, defined in the back of the book in the glossary, this book only provides one word and one phrase in Swahili.
Marcos Calo once again provides the art, with the black and white interior illustrations bringing to glorious life the story Paris tells. The animals, the natives, the houses and plains are all shown in such detail, it’s likely that any young reader who picks up this book will take away with it a fairly good idea of what it would be like to actually see Africa.
With only five books remaining in the series, I’ve reached the mid-way point, and I hope the rest of the books go back to actual mysteries for Ethan and Ella to solve. I’d hate to see the series end on a low note.
RATING: 5 beaded necklaces out of 10 for providing young readers with an enjoyable way of learning more about the world beyond the borders of the United States.